When I first sit down with a client they almost always want to focus on one thing, their website. This makes sense because a business’s website is the most important tool in their marketing system, it’s the foundation really.
But a website is just a tool and just one component, a very big component mind you, in a marketing system.
And a small business owner has to think beyond their website, to other touchpoints—to drive engagement, bring traffic to their site, and increase sales.
Marketing is a system
The first and most important step is to start thinking about marketing as a system which means a strategy before tactics mindset is a must.
Think beyond your website. Think strategy. And think about creating a complete marketing system using that strategy.
Creating a robust online presence is essential and I love the Duct Tape Marketing methodology which covers the seven stages of building a Total Online Presence™.
Here’s a breakdown…
1. Build a content platform
Your customers are looking for valuable content that gives them the information they need. Creating this type of educational content is how you build trust, improve your SEO, and get prospects to come back.
To create the type of content your audience wants and needs, you need to setup a listening station—to get more information on your market, details on competitors, and to connect with key industry journalists.
But to me, the most important thing is to start to understand the types of keyword phrases your best prospects will type in the Google search bar. Keywords become the foundation of your content. And when you create blog posts built on great keyword phrases, the type your clients are typing in to Google, you’ll start showing up when people search for a business like yours.
Here is how I would start:
Stop and focus on your customers wants and needs. Then take 30-45 minutes and start writing down the questions they always ask. Don’t stop until you have a minimum of 20 questions. The questions AND the answers you come up with are the foundation for your content, key to Step 3 to Small Business Marketing Success–Publish Educational Content.
2. Search Engine Optimization
When a prospect types a phrase in the Google search bar you’ll want your blog posts or site page to show up. This is called organic SEO and it’s a key element of your success. Here’s the key to get this process moving…
• Based on step 1 above, work to produce keyword rich content. I use a tool like Yoast SEO because it helps me craft content that is search engine friendly.
• Think beyond your own blog. How will you get other sites to link to yours? This is very important in SEO land. So think about writing guest posts on popular blogs in your industry, publishing videos on YouTube, starting to craft PR posts, etc.
3. Use email
Many online marketers agree, the money is in the list. And an email list of prospects that are engaged is extremely valuable to your business. And if you are looking to promote your business, I can think of no better way then to send out an email to people who want to hear from you.
Work to build a list of subscribers using email services like Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, or GetResponse. These systems make it relatively easy for you to add email opt-in forms to your site. Just remember to give people who sign up to your list something in return, like a valuable eBook.
4. Use social media to market your business
When it comes to strategy you must have a rock-solid strategy before you even consider diving into social media. Get in the mind of your ideal customer and try and understand how he or she uses social. Then think of ways you can better serve them using social.
Look at competitors in your industry, think about media contacts that might help your business, and figure out where your customers are. Based on that, figure out where you need to be and start building your profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram, etc.
Share content, engage with followers, build connections and see what happens. Just don’t go into social without a strategy.
5. Pay per click advertising
Facebook ads or Google AdWords can be effective if done right. But I’m 100% inline with John Jantsch’s opinion regarding online advertising: “Use your ads to drive content awareness instead of simply to sell. Drive Facebook users to sign up for your eBook first and then you can sell them over and over again.”
6. Think about location and mobile and what it means to your business
Your prospects are searching and reading on smartphones and tablets. Of course they are. So consider claiming your location-based profiles. If you have not claimed your business on Google My Business, do so today, that’s your first step. Claim your Facebook business page. Look at Foursquare and Yelp.
Make sure your website is mobile responsive and consider ads designed specifically for mobile. Most people these days use mobile when searching for products or services they need, so make sure your website is mobile responsive and consider ads designed specifically for mobile.
If you want to take a deeper dive, check out other ways to optimize your small business for a mobile world.
7. Measure your performance
As you build your total online presence make certain you are putting the necessary things in place to measure how well your marketing is working. Start by installing Google Analytics tracking code on your website. There are other options as well like KissMetrics, but regardless, this gives you something where you can look at visitor data, then test and refine based on that data.
Google Analytics makes it relatively easy to start setting conversion goals. Once you have the code you can start tracking specific pages on your site and work through options and tactics to increase conversion.
The key with all of the above is having a strategy before tactics mindset, and to view this process as an incremental process that will take time. Learn. install, test, repeat but just don’t stop.
This is just one step in a series.
Do you want to bring your brand to life? Taking a few minutes to complete our brand audit will help you think about your current marketing efforts and what might need to change. It will also help me suggest several ways to improve your branding and marketing now: Brand audit.
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